Indiana native and freshman 3-star recruit Cooper Neese (G, 6’4″) is transferring from Butler to Indiana State University. Last Sunday, to the surprise of many Butler fans, Neese announced his departure from the Butler Men’s Basketball Team prior to this 2017-2018 season. Neese cited overall college fit as his main reason for transferring. Since then, the IndyStar and other sources reported just hours ago that he is now committed to Indiana State, which Neese confirmed on Twitter.
On one hand, this is an unfortunate turn for the Bulldogs, who will miss out on his potential for production on the court. Neese, who is ranked 7th on the all-time IHSAA career scoring list, averaged 27.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.2 steals per game in his senior season at Cloverdale High School. On the other hand, this gives us a great opportunity to discuss this year’s group of freshman Bulldogs.
What this means for Butler is that this year’s freshman squad has shrunk twice, with 4-star recruit Kyle Young shifting his commitment to Ohio State last June and now Neese transferring. This leaves Campbell Donovan (G, 5’11”), Aaron Thompson (G, 6’2″), Jerald Gillens-Butler (G/F, 6’4″), and Christian David (G/F, 6’6″) as the 4 remaining first-year Bulldogs. All of them are 3-star recruits.
For Butler fans, 2 strong recruits leaving before the season begins can be rather disheartening. But at the very least, the Bulldogs have time to prepare and make adjustments accordingly. We’re a month away from the start of Butler’s regular season on November 10th. Before that, the Bulldogs will play 2 exhibition matches: Hanover on October 28th and Lincoln Memorial on November 4th. This should allow them to test the water, if you will, and prepare for the tough season ahead.
It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes the 4 freshmen end up playing during these exhibition games. Perhaps we’ll even get a good preview of what’s to come from them, as well as the rest of Butler’s young team. The graduation of last year’s 6 seniors has opened up many opportunities for younger players to step up this season.
The Spain Trip
So far, they’ve done a great job of stepping up. The Bulldogs traveled to Spain this summer, where they played 4 exhibition games against the Madrid All-Stars, Arcos Albacete Basketball Club, Valencia, and Dax Gamarde Basketball Club. Butler finished the series a perfect 4-0, outscoring their opponents by a combined 57 points and never scoring below 80. While Neese was with the team during the trip and played in 2 games, he was not a key player in Butler’s rotation likely due to a thumb injury which he sustained prior to the trip that limited his practice and game time. This shows that even without Young, Neese, and last year’s seniors, this Butler basketball team is absolutely capable of both scoring and defending at a high level.
Overall, the Butler freshmen played very well during the Spain trip. Aaron Thompson and Christian David were both part of the group that sparked the Dawgs’ 4th quarter comeback against the Madrid All-Stars. Thompson also had an impressive 5 assists in the game against Valencia. David (6 pts.), Thompson (3 pts.), and Jerald Gillens-Butler (2 pts.) all contributed well against Dax Gamarde. The final scoring averages for the freshmen at the end of the trip were as follows: Thompson (5.3 ppg.), David (4.3 ppg.), Gillens-Butler (2.3 ppg.), Neese (1.0 ppg.). And of course, this is just covering the freshmen. More takeaways from the Spain trip can be found here.
Even in the face of adversity, it’s a dynamic and exciting time to be a Butler fan.